Thursday, June 8, 2023

Tour Review - - A Little Ray of Sunshine

A Little Ray of Sunshine
by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

A kid walks into your bookstore and… Guess what? He’s your son. The one you put up for adoption eighteen years ago. The one you never told anyone about. Surprise!

And a 
huge surprise it is.
It’s a huge surprise to his adoptive mother, Monica, who thought she had a close relationship with Matthew, her nearly adult son. But apparently, he felt the need to secretly arrange a vacation to Cape Cod for the summer so he could meet his birth mother…without a word to either her or his dad.
It’s also a surprise— to say the least—to Harlow, the woman who secretly placed her baby for adoption so many years ago. She’s spent the years since then building a quiet life. She runs a bookstore with her grandfather, hangs out with her four younger siblings and is more or less happily single, though she can’t help gravitating toward Grady Byrne, her old friend from high school. He’s moved back to town, three-year-old daughter in tow, no wife in the picture. But she’s always figured her life had to be child-free, so that complicates things.
When Matthew walks into Harlow’s store, she faints. Monica panics. And all their assumptions—about what being a parent really means—explode. This summer will be full of more surprises as both their families are redefined…and as both women learn that for them, there’s no limit to a mother’s love.

PJ's Thoughts:

By the 8% mark of this book, I was already crying. By 30%, I had snort laughed more than once. By the last page I would have done both many more times as well as reading numerous passages out loud to my family. I'm pretty sure we had reached the point where one more "OMG, you have to hear this one!" would have seen me kicked to the curb. But that's the risk - and the fun - of a Kristan Higgins novel. 

Higgins has the gift of creating fully-dimensional, multi-layered, frequently flawed characters to whom we readers can relate, whether we've walked in their shoes or not. In this novel, there are many from whom to choose: a biological mother, an adoptive mother, assorted family members (both male and female), teens, friends, children, and a potential love interest. Many have essential roles in the journeys of the main characters, all experience some type of growth or evolution, and all of them elicited an emotional response, positive or negative, or in some cases, both. 

The storytelling in this book is spellbinding, drawing me in from the first pages and then immersing me into the lives of these characters. The chapters are told in alternating points of view, giving insight into the joys, fears, anguish, and perspective from the views of both Harlow and Monica, as well as other characters. It deepened the emotional investment that grew exponentially within me with each completed chapter. My heart ached for both Harlow and Monica, especially after reading the flashback chapters that showed the bond of love not only between each of them and Matthew, the child Harlow birthed and Monica adopted, but between the two women as well and how that bond was tested with Matthew's actions in the weeks leading up to his eighteenth birthday and beyond. 

Along with the setting, which, let's face it, is a character in itself, Higgins also brought these characters to life on the pages of her book, giving them unique qualities that helped move the story forward. No character - primary or secondary - is left behind in a Higgins book. Even if their contribution is minimal, they still receive care and thought in their creation. Grandpop was a particular favorite. I fell hard for Grady. Rosie is the kind of friend we all deserve. Matthew carried all the complex emotions of a teenage boy, amplified by his adoption situation (it's clear Higgins has personal experience with the teen male species). Even nasty cousin Cynthia had a few unexpected surprises in store. By the end of the book, they were all real to me - no longer fictional characters on paper. I knew them. I wanted the best for them. All of them. I wanted to offer hugs when needed, applaud Harlow for the decisions she made, join her trivia team, hang out with Grandpop, visit her bookstore, and celebrate how far she'd come. How far they'd all come. With a smile and a tear, I closed this book secure in the knowledge that Harlow had forged the emotional fires of her life and emerged stronger; that, finally, she had put her past behind her and was ready to move forward to a new chapter filled with happiness and sunshine. 

A Little Ray of Sunshine is an emotional experience like only Kristan Higgins can create...and I wouldn't have it any other way. It has my enthusiastic recommendation. 


  1. Have always enjoyed her books!

    1. Me too, catslady. This one hit an emotional sweet spot for me. :)

  2. I love Kristan Higgins AND her books :-)

  3. Can't wait to read it! I'm number three on hold from my library for the audio version :)

  4. I love her books.


  5. You have done a terrific review. The book sounds like something that would draw me right into the story. I have a book by Ms Higgins on my KIndle, but have not read it yet. I read her newsletter and from that alone, I know she is a talented author. Her humor is one of the things I am sure I will admire in her writing. Thanks for the review and thanks for the reminder that I need to read Ms Higgins' book from my Kindle.

  6. Thank you for the beautiful review, PJ! I can't wait to get started on this!

  7. This book and a sketch of the plot have turned up in several places lately. Thank you so much for the review and recommendation. It sounds like such a perfect read for not just summer, but any time of the year. I appreciate an author who explores important issues and the ramifications of a person's actions. Good character development makes it all so much better. I have a feeling this one will be moving to the top of my Wish List.

  8. Your review has me intrigued, PJ! Thanks for the heads up!

  9. TY for great review. I am definitely going to read this.

  10. So excited to read! Should arrive tomorrow!